Lurie must fire Reid to restore Birds' image

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Lurie must fire Reid to restore Birds' image

Jeffrey Lurie sees the exact same things we see.

All of it.

He sees Stacy Andrews leave Philly with 9 million after starting two games. He sees Kevin Curtis leave Philly with 15.3 million after having one great game and a bunch of mediocre ones. He sees 4 million pickup Vince Young throwing the football to the other team pass after pass after pass.

He sees Jerome McDougle drafted instead of Troy Polamalu, Brandon Graham instead of Earl Thomas, Trevor Laws instead of Calais Campbell.

He sees Chris Clemons, Chris Gocong, Antwan Barnes, Joe Mays and Brodrick Bunkley -- non-factors here -- join other teams and immediately excel.

He sees the Eagles stick with players who clearly cant play, like Ernie Sims, Will James, L.J. Smith, Nick Cole and Reggie Brown. He sees guys regress, like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Nate Allen and Stewart Bradley. He sees Day 1 draft picks making zero impact, like Daniel Teo-Nesheim, Victor Abiamiri and Bryan Smith.

He sees his head coach punting when he should go for it and going for it when he should punt. He sees the ill-fated Ronnie Brown option play, the rookie punter underthrowing an open receiver by 20 yards, the fourth-down goal-line pass to Brent Celek that had no chance to work.

He sees it all.

He sees the Juan Castillo disaster. The 1-8 record at home over the past 365 days. The blowout losses. The lack of discipline. The NFL-record five blown fourth-quarter leads. The penalties. The missed tackles. The bickering coaches on the sideline. The Fire Andy chants and banners. The three consecutive years since a postseason win. Rory Segrest. A fan base furious every time it has to watch legendary Brian Dawkins deliver a huge play for the Broncos while his replacements bumble their way through missed tackle after missed tackle.

Lurie is a smart man. Smart enough to turn his initial 185 million investment in 1994 into a franchise now worth 1.16 billion with a beautiful stadium and practice facility, a long season-ticket waiting list and massive merchandise sales.

He also sees Jon Gruden winning a Super Bowl in their first year, Mike Tomlin winning a Super Bowl in his second year, Sean Payton winning a Super Bowl in his fourth year.

And its impossible to escape this conclusion: If Lurie does indeed see everything we see, he will change coaches when the 2011 season ends.

Because the last thing Lurie wants is a city that can't stand his football team. The last thing he wants is a fan base that collectively harbors an incredible amount of bitterness, anger and frustration toward the Eagles. The last thing he wants is an overwhelmingly negative image associated with his franchise.

And thats exactly what hes stuck with right now.

The Eagles have had bad teams before. Plenty of them.

From 1962 through 1977, they had one winning season and no playoff appearances in a 16-year span. From 1982 through 1999, an 18-year span, they won just two playoff games and never made it past the wild-card round under six different coaches.

But theyve never had this. People whove grown up with this team, third-generation fans, arent just disappointed with the Eagles, theyre fed up. Theyre angry. Theyve had enough of this football team, theyve had enough of this coach, and theyve had enough of things just not changing.

They see the Eagles as a collection of overpaid, underachieving, whining, complaining divas with a sense of entitlement who wont hesitate to talk big but cant -- or wont -- back it up on the field.

By any measure, Reid is a successful NFL head coach. Only 13 coaches in NFL history have taken more teams to the playoffs. Only 11 coaches with at least 200 games have a higher winning percentage.

But this goes way beyond any of that. This goes right to the heart of how the Eagles are perceived in Philadelphia and why. And right now, the Eagles rank down there in popularity with SEPTA, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, roving PenDOT crews and Lew Blum Towing. Public sentiment is fiercely anti-Eagles right now. All because of Reid.

When the Eagles were routinely making deep playoff runs, Reids popularity was always relatively low, thanks in part to the three upset losses in NFC Championship Game and just as much because Reid simply couldn't -- or wouldn't -- connect with the fans who had invested so much into this team.

So whether or not Lurie is confident that Reid can coach the Eagles back into the NFL elite isnt the primary issue here, although it will certainly be a factor when Lurie decides whether to keep Reid or move on with a new head coach for the first time in 14 years.

Lurie is obsessed with his franchises image, as he should be. Wander around the NovaCare Complex. Theres a reason the picture frames in all the offices in the building -- no matter what floor you're on or what department you're in -- are precisely the same color. Theres a reason the grass out front by the entranceway is freshly cut every 48 hours. Theres a reason the hallways are lined with historical displays and photographs, like an Eagles museum.

A big part of the value of the Eagles is the value of that word Eagles, and all that it invokes.

He wants that word and its trademarks and logos to resonate positively whenever theyre spoken or seen. Right now, they resonate not just negatively but grotesquely.

Even their most loyal, devoted fans despise this team, and even Reids most ardent supporters concede that something is terribly wrong these days inside the soul of this football team.

Right now, the perception of the Eagles is at its lowest point since at least the mid-1980s, when they sputtered through six straight losing seasons. Maybe at its lowest point ever, since expectations were astronomically high this year.

Lurie can change all of that. He can change it in an instant. With one decision.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.